Blazers' offer trumps Wolves

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 18, 2012 - 10:39 PM

Portland kept Nicolas Batum -- at a big price -- while the Timberwolves regrouped.

hide

Portland kept Nicolas Batum (left) -- at a big price -- while the Timberwolves regrouped.

Photo: Rick Bowmer, Associated Press

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

The Timberwolves' tireless, seemingly timeless pursuit of restricted free agent Nicolas Batum finally did end on Wednesday, when Portland officially matched the rich offer sheet made to the young, promising small forward.

Inevitably, a matter that stretched on through the opening week of the NBA's free-agent signing period reached the conclusion Trail Blazers General Manager Neil Olshey always promised it would.

"The decision was made a long time ago," Olshey told reporters gathered at Las Vegas summer league. "We were never not going to have Nicolas back."

So after their overtures to strike a trade that would have brought Batum to Minnesota failed and Portland matched the offer made on Sunday, the Wolves now turn their free-agent attention elsewhere with the $14 million-plus they cleared in salary-cap space to make room for Batum's four-year offer.

That offer is believed to be worth $45 million after the NBA, according to Olshey, voided some of its bonus clauses.

The Wolves maintained conversations with agents for other players while they danced with Batum's agent and the Blazers for days.

Their wish list now includes Houston unrestricted free agent Courtney Lee, Los Angeles Lakers unrestricted free-agent power forward Jordan Hill, Boston restricted free agent Greg Stiemsma, their own unrestricted free agent Anthony Tolliver and possibly unrestricted free agent Ronnie Brewer if they can't sign Lee or unrestricted free agent Carl Landry if they can't sign Hill.

A team in need of backup help at power forward and center, the Wolves also could put in a waiver claim on Orono's own Jon Leuer, a second-year power forward whom Houston waived on Wednesday. They also have been discussing a trade that would send Wayne Ellington to Memphis for forward Dante Cunningham, but that hasn't yet been finalized.

The players the Wolves might have missed out while they focused on Batum: Houston star forward Luis Scola, who unexpectedly was on the amnesty waiver wire while the Wolves cap space was tied up in the offer sheet, and Memphis guard O.J. Mayo, in whom the Wolves had some, but limited, interest. Phoenix claimed Scola, and Mayo signed with Dallas.

Wolves president of basketball operations David Kahn in a statement said the Wolves are "disappointed" that Batum won't play for them but were "prepared for the possibility of this outcome." He also said the team is well-positioned to make additional roster moves with the salary-cap space it has cleared.

The Wolves failed to obtain a player they targeted because he would have been, according to coach Rick Adelman, "a perfect fit" at a small-forward spot where former No. 4 overall pick Wes Johnson has struggled and where former No. 2 pick Derrick Williams has yet to prove he's suited to play.

Batum would have given the Wolves a 23-year-old who can defend as many as three positions and shoot the three-pointer. They also envisioned him as the perfect athletic complement to Ricky Rubio's open-court game.

Olshey said the Blazers never came close to letting Batum go, even though Batum's agent orchestrated a public-relations campaign that suggested his client wanted a fresh start in Minnesota with Rubio, Adelman and Kevin Love and didn't want to return to Portland.

Batum flew from France to Portland on Wednesday. He'll undergo a physical examination on Thursday and hold a Friday news conference there in which he undoubtedly will express his pleasure about remaining a Blazer.

"His agent did what he needed to do, which was get the possible deal for his client," Olshey said. "Nicolas got his deal, we got our player back and we move on."

The Wolves lost Batum, but they forced a division rival to pay a player whom Olshey calls one of the Blazers' two foundation pieces -- forward LaMarcus Aldridge is the other -- in the neighborhood of $11 million a year for the next four years.

"It doesn't matter, it really doesn't matter," Olshey told reporters, referring to Batum's pricetag. "Let us worry about the money. You guys write about the players and the team and how well or how poorly we play and how guys are developing. We'll worry about how we manage our cap and how guys get paid. Guys' values are based on what they bring to the team, and I can assure you Nicolas will absolutely live up to this contract."

WHAT'S NEXT?

Now that the Wolves missed out on Nicolas Batum, here are their possible targets:

• Courtney Lee, SG/SF, Houston

• Jordan Hill, PF/C, L.A. Lakers

• Greg Stiemsma, C, Boston

• Also, Anthony Tolliver, Ronnie Brewer, Carl Landry.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Toronto 104 FINAL
Indiana 91
Cleveland 103 FINAL
Detroit 95
Milwaukee 109 FINAL
Miami 102
Memphis 109 FINAL
Dallas 90
Chicago 113 FINAL
Golden State 111
Washington 98 FINAL
LA Lakers 92
NY Rangers 1 FINAL
NY Islanders 4
Arizona 3 FINAL(SO)
Philadelphia 4
Winnipeg 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 5
Washington 3 FINAL
Columbus 4
Tampa Bay 2 FINAL
Carolina 4
Dallas 2 FINAL
Montreal 3
Detroit 5 FINAL
Florida 4
Colorado 3 FINAL(OT)
Nashville 4
Buffalo 1 FINAL
Calgary 4
Minnesota 2 FINAL
Edmonton 1
Anaheim 4 FINAL
Vancouver 0
Ball State 47 FINAL
Akron 59
Northern Ill 46 FINAL
Bowling Green 56
Western Mich 71 FINAL
Buffalo 77
Ohio 40 FINAL
Eastern Mich 76
Xavier 66 FINAL
Georgetown 53
Vanderbilt 62 FINAL
Georgia 70
West Virginia 65 FINAL
Kansas State 59
Central Mich 53 FINAL
Kent State 63
Saint Josephs 48 FINAL
La Salle 53
Nebraska 44 FINAL
Michigan 58
Miami-Ohio 65 FINAL
Toledo 70
Tulsa 62 FINAL
Tulane 55
George Washington 48 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 72
Pittsburgh 67 FINAL
Virginia Tech 70
Indiana State 78 FINAL
Evansville 89
Tabor College 53 FINAL
Oral Roberts 94
Florida 52 FINAL
Alabama 50
Tennessee 64 FINAL
Arkansas 69
Texas A&M 71 FINAL
Auburn 61
Baylor 53 FINAL
Oklahoma State 64
DePaul 0 Postponed
Providence 0
Michigan State 0 Postponed
Rutgers 0
Wyoming 44 FINAL
Utah State 56
Fresno State 47 FINAL
San Diego St 58
UNLV 67 FINAL
Nevada 62
SD Christian 54 FINAL
CS-Bakersfield 79
Colorado State 78 FINAL
Boise State 82
Temple 71 FINAL
UCF 54
Campbell 42 FINAL
Presbyterian 51
Coastal Carolina 65 FINAL
High Point 73
Gardner-Webb 49 FINAL
Radford 59
UNC-Asheville 58 FINAL
Liberty 62
Winthrop 63 FINAL
Longwood 62
Columbia International 33 FINAL
Charleston Southern 74
Tulane 63 FINAL
Houston 46
(3) Baylor 89 FINAL
TCU 67
Navy 49 FINAL
American Univ 59
Valparaiso 42 FINAL
Illinois-Chicago 60
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Which local team is currently the biggest disappointment?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close